Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian is happy and relieved about Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s observation on the lack of infrastructure in Sarawak during the Aug 31 celebration in Sri Aman.
Baru, who is also state PKR chairman, said this was what his party had been highlighting for many years – in fact, the underlying message in his (Baru’s) statement for Aug 31 was the need for ‘such truth’ to be acknowledged.
“I have just returned from a week’s stay at my constituency and begun catching up with the news. The CM sounded as exasperated as we were, and his remarks reflected the sentiment and disappointment of all Sarawakians. In this respect, I’m with him,” he said yesterday.
On the state’s use of its own resources, Baru said he was glad that Adenan was taking this step.
“In November 2013, I had asked in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) for the utilisation of our state reserves to improve our schools, but the Second Finance Minister replied that it was not appropriate to do so as education is a federal matter and that ‘we should not use the basis of our healthy reserve, which we have worked so hard to build over the past years, to finance responsibilities beyond (our) purview’.
“It is only right that we should use our reserves to improve the lives of our people. Whether we will be able to claim the funds from the federal government is another matter, which may be like ‘menunggu sungai tidak berhulu’ (waiting in vain),” he said.
Baru said it would be best to get an increase in the state’s petroleum royalty to a higher percentage from what it is currently receiving, adding that even an increase to 10 or 15 per cent would go a long way in improving the state’s infrastructure.
“I hope that the plans for rural infrastructure will be implemented as a priority, and that the roads built will be good roads – not like the ‘Jiwa Murni’ roads, which need constant repairs.
“Improved road connectivity will act as the catalyst for economic activities and uplift the lives of the rural folk.
It is the dream of many rural Sarawakians to have good roads that connect Lawas with Long Semadoh, Bario and Long Lama, as well as with other rural areas including Kapit and Ulu Rajang in the interior of Sarawak.
“In fact, the Petronas Sabah-Sarawak Pipeline from Kimanis (Sabah) to Bintulu could foreshadow such an interior highway, which is possible if we have the political will and means.”
He said the government must take steps to ensure that in implementing infrastructure projects, careful monitoring would be carried out so that all the allocations would be maximised and any leakage prevented.
“The MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) report in 2009 stated that 60 per cent of the federal funds for certain Sarawak projects had been diverted to other people. Such leakages must be investigated and stopped if the government is serious in wanting to provide good infrastructure and facilities for the people.”
On road matters, Baru said Adenan announced in May last year that the government had approved RM15 million for the Lawas-Long Sukang road, but in a written answer to his question in DUN sitting this year, the then-Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister informed him that the government was constructing 2.8km of road there.
“Something is not right if RM15 million is to be spent on building only 2.8km (of road), while the distance between Lawas and Long Sukang is around 35km. I hope the minister could clarify this. Moreover, the road to Ba Kelalan is still in bad condition, and is in dire need of repair.”
Baru said he was encouraged by Adenan’s statement and urged the chief minister to utilise more state funds if necessary to provide schools, hospitals, electricity and water supply as well as other facilities for the rural folk, adding that they deserve better after 53 years since the formation of Malaysia.
The Borneo Post Online